GLENDALE, Arizona – Juan Francisco Estrada believed he checked off every box at the end of his third clash with Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez.
A clear win may not have come of the occasion, though his twelve-round, majority decision victory on Saturday was certainly less disputable than the split decision win he claimed last March in Dallas, Texas. Aiding Estrada’s cause in the third act was the assurance that he wouldn’t once again get outworked during their lineal and vacant WBC 115-pound championship at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
“We trained in high altitude for this fight. We wanted to make sure we were stronger and not allow Chocolatito to outwork us in this fight,” Estrada told BoxingScene.com. “I believe we accomplished that.”
Final Compubox numbers support that claim.
The second fight between the pair of future Hall of Famers saw Estrada land 314 of a career-high 1,212 total punches, yet still outdone by Gonzalez (391-of-1,317) despite still getting the nod on two of the three judges’ scorecards.
Saturday’s rubber match saw a significantly lower punch output from last year’s Fight of the Year contender. It worked to Estrada’s advantage, as he threw and landed more total punches (217-of-778) than Nicaragua’s Gonzalez. (201-of-732). The 32-year-old two-division champ also enjoyed a slight edge in power punches, landing 192-of-552 compared to 187-of-550 for Gonzalez (51-4, 41KOs).
The final stats were in line with the majority decision that came from the third act. Their rivalry spanning a little more than ten years has just one clear-cut outcome, Gonzalez’s unanimous decision win in their November 2012 WBA junior flyweight title fight. The March 2021 rematch—which saw Estrada defend his WBC 115-pound title and claim Gonzalez’s WBA ‘Super’ strap—was met with industry-wide debate over the final scoring.
Estrada strengthened his case for a deserved victory on Saturday by jumping out to a strong start. It didn’t bode well for Gonzalez, who was slow out the gate and down 50-45 through five rounds on two of the official scorecards. Ever the legend, the former four-division champ came on strong in the second half, though the additional strength and cardio work put in by Estrada during training camp was key in his final rounds surge to preserve the win.
With the victory, Estrada is now 2-1 in his memorable series with Gonzalez. The tie was broken on Saturday, though perhaps not entirely settled and with the chance for either side to provide a more convincing case if the rivalry makes its way back around.
“It was a great fight against Chocolatito. We got through the trilogy, but maybe it’s not over,” acknowledged Estrada. “Maybe we have a fourth fight.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox